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The Rappahannock Area Community Services Board seeks nominations for its annual Hope Starter Awards. These prizes are given to community members who have shown creativity, initiative, leadership and compassion while helping individuals with behavioral health concerns or developmental disability.

These prestigious awards started in 2019, and the inaugural recipients were two women who made an enormous impact on the greater Fredericksburg community: April Burch, co-founder of Cooking Autism, and Rita Girard, retired director of Mental Health America of Fredericksburg.

April Burch receives the HopeStarter of the Year Award for helping individuals with developmental disabilities.

The agency did not seek nominations for the awards in 2020, because of COVID-19.

“The pandemic highlighted the intense and unique needs of individuals with behavioral health needs or developmental disability,“ Executive Director Jane Yaun said.“It also showed the dedication and commitment of those who strive to provide hope, independence and opportunity to these individuals. We look forward to recognizing the generosity of our community through the Hope Starter of the Year awards.“

RACSB works at the intersection of hope and help to provide support services across the full life-cycle of complex behavioral health needs. But so many others come to that intersection to lend a hand. These awards aim to honor those people who join together to empower individuals in our community with the tools, services, supports and care they need to meet and surpass personal expectations.

Nominees can be anyone who works to improve lives for individuals with behavioral health concerns or developmental disability, whether they do so through paid work. Judges will look for nominees who tackle their tasks with an unusual dedication, perseverance and ingenuity. Employees of RACSB are not eligible for the awards.

Nominate someone online by Sept. 3 at rappahannockareacsb.org/hope-starter-of-the-year/.  If you are unable to apply online, please email aumble@rappahannockareacsb.org.

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